Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) Directed by Jake Kasdan. With Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillian.
There have been a lot of video games over the past 35-years. There have been a lot of rubbish films based on video games; Streetfighter, Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Wing Commander, Resident Evil, Assassins Creed, Super Mario Bros…the transition from console kings to celluloid heroes has mostly been a failed quest. But then, there have been good films based on the concept of video games. Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs the World was an inspired blend of gaming experiences. Disney’s Tron films, while not universally loved have earned sizeable cult appeal. You could argue The Matrix is front loaded with the idea of being in a game, which brings me neatly to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
An accessibly loose sequel to Jumanji, the 1995 Robin Williams hit, Jake Kasdan’s soft reboot takes the premise of setting the film around a mystical board game and updates it to a 90’s video game cartridge. Add the trio of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart and you get a bankable amount of charisma, energy and fun.
The film is at its best when indulging the comic talents of Black and Hart, particularly the body-swap humour that makes up the central comedic thread of the piece. Black has the best role and makes the most of it as he embraces the opportunity to get in touch with his inner 16-yr-old Insta-obsessed, pretty blonde white girl.
Aside from the comedy the film has pace and purpose. The action scenes are lively if not a little generic. The final act becomes an exercise is less interesting than the middle section, but when Guns N’ Roses pipe up at the end credits you’ll have mostly had a good time.